Behind every Worthington Memorial Day parade is a group of women working quietly to ensure that veterans are remembered with respect.

Behind every Worthington Memorial Day parade is a group of women working quietly to ensure that veterans are remembered with respect.

The Ladies Auxiliary of the American Legion Post 239 each year makes poppies and places them on veterans' graves at Walnut Grove Cemetery.

They also make and display commemorative poppy plates on the walls of the Legion hall at 700 Morning St.

For $2, a paper plate adorned with a poppy can be ordered to honor or remember a loved one who served or is serving in the military.

Also on Memorial Day, the small but dedicated group of women makes and serves breakfast to the men from the post who leave before 6 a.m. to perform services on the Village Green and several other sites around Worthington.

With numbers dwindling and ages advancing, however, the core group of women has taken some steps to make the work a little more efficient.

Fewer than 70 women belong to the Auxiliary, but only 16 to 18 are active, and fewer do most of the projects, said Cheryl Smith, who is treasurer and former president of the organization.

In past years, the women have toiled long hours to make poppies from crepe paper.

This year, they purchased silk flowers but still had to work to separate and prepare them for placement.

Also, the women previously place the poppies themselves. This year, Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops will place the poppies on graves.

At one time, poppies were placed on veterans' graves at several Worthington-area cemeteries.

The project now focuses on Walnut Grove.

The approximately 1,400 poppies are placed on Sunday afternoon, in time for them to make an impression on visitors to the Walnut Grove service on Memorial Day.

The silk flowers will be removed and stored for next year.

The auxiliary also performs many service projects throughout the year.

The group ships boxes of items to chaplains to be distributed to soldiers in the field; regularly takes cards and coffee to the Columbus Veterans Outpatient Clinic; collects school supplies for a Columbus elementary school; and sends a group of girls to Girls State in Columbus.

"The auxiliary does a lot for the community and for veterans," Smith said. "That is what we are here for."